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The B-52 Stratofortress joined the Air Force inventory in February 1955. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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B-52s break tradition during Max Thunder

Posted 5/25/2012   Updated 5/25/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Michael Battles
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/25/2012 - GWANGJU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Two B-52 Bombers from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, flew in air-to-air combat missions during exercise Max Thunder 12-1 at Gwangji Air Base, Republic of Korea, May 17, 2012.

This is the first time B-52's flew in MT 12-1. It has tradition as a fighter aircraft exercise since 2008.

"Bringing the B-52 to Max Thunder is really great training for everyone," said Capt. Seth Spidahl, Anderson Air Base B-52 pilot and liaison at Max Thunder. "A lot of the time we don't get to integrate with other fighter aircraft.

MT 12-1 is the largest Air Combat Command exercise in Korea conducted twice a year. Each exercise rotates leadership roles between the Republic of Korea and U.S., and this year's exercise was spearheaded by the ROK.

The decision to integrate B-52s into MT 12-1 was decided just hours before their executed mission, Spidahl said.

"Normally we don't plan from the exercise location but, since we don't normally play in Max Thunder, it seemed appropriate," he said.

During the exercise, the B-52s were tasked to bring approximately 40 percent of the weaponry to the fight and were instructed to hit roughly 85 percent of the planned targets for the mission.

"It's important to display our capabilities and show what we bring to the fight," he said. "During a time of actual war B-52s would support the fight. So it's important to exercise those capabilities now."

Approximately 720 U.S and Allied service members deployed to Gwangju AB as part of MT 12-1, a two-week long wartime exercise.

"B-52s brought a different spin to Max Thunder," said Col. Patrick Matthews, Max Thunder deployed commander. "This exercise has been a series of firsts and this has been an excellent addition to show our capabilities."

The combined joint two-week exercise allowed the U. S. Air Force to work alongside the ROK Air Force through exercise scenarios simulating combined operations against a hostile force.

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